Summer's Last Hurrah

As summer draws to an end the girls and I are trying to squeeze the last of the fun out of the season. One of the last things on the list we came up with at the beginning of the year was to go to the Harbourfront, and that is what we did today.

As usual we got off to a late start—between brushing hair and applying sunblock and looking for Playmobil horses and TTC tokens we didn't leave the house until around ten. When we got down to the Harbourfront the first order of business (after saying goodbye to the crowds of people headed for the Ex) was to find money. Unfortunately RBC has a lock on Queen's Quay Terminal, so we wandered westward searching for a TD bank machine. On the way we saw: a camp "canoeing" (more being pushed about) on Natrel pond; Delphine's canoe camp (she showed us the giant canoe they all went out to Centre Island in); the Amsterdam Bridge; the Spadina wave deck; and HtO Park. HtO Park is basically a giant sandbox with big metal umbrellas and Muskoka chairs—we couldn't decide if it was cool or lame, but Delphine liked the shower/footbath.

At that point it was apparent that we wouldn't find a TD bank machine anywhere, so we headed back to Queen's Quay Terminal (via the Simcoe wave deck) where I paid $1.50 for the privilege of taking money out of an RBC machine.

Next on the itinerary was to buy tickets for a boat ride. We went with Mariposa Boat Cruises because they were the first kiosk we came to, and Cordelia rode for free. It was 12:00 so I bought tickets for the 1:30 ride to give us time to get lunch. After pondering Il Fornello and an Irish pub, we decided to economize, and had chicken fingers, fish and chips, and a tuna sandwich at a grill-type place. Then back to Queen's Quay Terminal where we got an ice cream cone just in time to take it on the boat.

We rode on the Oriole (not quite as glamourous, in the harsh light of day, as they make it sound) and made ourselves at home on the lower deck, with only the bartender for company. I love the harbourfront boat tours—you get to go around the island lagoon, see the yachts, the bird sanctuary, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, and of course the city from the other side. The girls loved it too, although Delphine had trouble keeping up with the tour guide's descriptions of buildings: "Between the two white buildings you'll see a tall gold building..." "Which one is it, Mama? I can't see it." By the time I described it again, of course, it was out of sight. Cordelia probably just couldn't make sense of it at all and was enjoying the ride on her own terms. It's good to be four.

A few things bothered me about the information given out in the tour. They talked about the TD Centre but they didn't mention it was designed by Mies van der Rohe; they talked about First Canadian Place but they didn't mention it by name (they called it the Bank of Montreal building) and they didn't say why it has scaffolding at the top; they called Canada geese "Canadian geese" which is a neologism which drives me crazy; and finally (is that all?!) they said the CN in CN Tower stands for "Canada's National". Which is just stupid, although according to this Wikipedia page not entirely wrong.

After the tour we visited what Delphine calls the Lemming Ball, for reasons I will leave to her to explain when she has a blog. It's a giant, hollow cement sphere which you can walk into through a wooden ramp. It is surprisingly underdocumented on the Internet (or else I am searching wrong) and you'd have to see it to really understand. The girls thought it was really cool; I was too busy Twittering about two old people sitting on a nearby bench making out like teenagers.

Next we charged over to Yonge Street (in the hot hot sun) in search of the Royal York Hotel. Those of you who are smarter than me will be saying, "Hey, isn't the Royal York on Bay Street?" As it turns out, it is, so we charged over to Yonge Street, walked under the Gardiner (boo, hiss) and then (once I realized my mistake) charged back west on Front Street until we finally reached the elegantly air conditioned Royal York. I thought the girls would be impressed by the shiny old-school, dimly lit, brass-and-Persian-carpets luxury of it, and so they were. They also immediately quieted down and behaved like princesses as soon as we got inside; to the manner born, they are.

We found a fancy hotel restroom and took our time freshening up, and then I impulsively suggested that we go to Epic for drinks. The maitre d' was busy on the phone helping someone plan his (or her) proposal dinner, so we found ourselves a table and ordered lemonade for Cordelia, a Shirley Temple for Delphine and iced tea for me. (That's "drinks" when you travel with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old.) The drinks came with an elegant silver bowl of not-entirely-elegant snack mix: beer nuts, wasabi peas, cheese crackers, and sesame chips. It was delightfully refreshing, all the more so because for some reason they only charged us for my drink. I guess it pays to be really cute.

On the way home we intersected with about a million cranky TDSB teachers TTCing home from Spence-a-palooza with their unwanted green tote bags. It's interesting to see how many teachers live in our neighbourhood—there were at least four on our bus alone.

(I may have inadvertently insulted our French/gym teacher within his earshot. I was talking to an acquaintance, also a teacher, and saying I wished we had a proper gym teacher at our school; the kids either get a non-gym teacher who happens to be free at the right time, or they get M. Landry who is half gym, half French, but his heart is really in the French classroom. However, what I actually said was "M. Landry is just an angry French teacher", which is, I believe, an accurate characterization. As I said it a guy sitting nearby kind of smirked, and when he got off the bus at our stop he was talking to his friend in a French accent. So, oops, maybe.)

Then we were home and I sent the children off to play at a neighbour's house while I took a few minutes to relax. It was a great day—I love exploring the city with my kids, they are such good company. (Even when they pick and snipe at each other all day as they have been lately.)

Tomorrow they're going for back-to-school haircuts and then we'll hit the library and the park, if it isn't raining.